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European Stocks Close Higher on Dovish ECB Comments; EQT Up 13%

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  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.6%, with travel and leisure stocks jumping 2.7% to lead gains.
  • The European Central Bank vowed to maintain a "persistently accommodative" stance until its inflation target is met consistently.
  • Swedish investment firm EQT surged 12.8% to lead the Stoxx 600 after a strong first-half earnings report.

LONDON — European stocks closed higher Thursday amid dovish comments from European Central Bank.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.6%, with travel and leisure shares jumping 2.6% to lead gains as most sectors and major bourses finished in positive territory.

The European Central Bank on Thursday held monetary policy steady, but tweaked guidance to reflect its recently-hiked inflation target. The bank vowed to maintain a "persistently accommodative" stance until its target is met consistently.

Earnings were also in focus Thursday, offering a gauge of the impact of the pandemic on the business community in Europe, with the latest figures coming from Unilever, Publicis, ABB, Roche, Centrica and Mulberry Group, among others.

In terms of individual share price movement, Swedish investment firm EQT surged 12.8% to lead the Stoxx 600 after a strong first-half earnings report.

Unilever dropped 5.9% after the consumer goods giant cut its annual operating margin forecast citing higher commodity prices. AJ Bell Investment Director Russ Mould said the company's earnings had followed a similar pattern to a lot of recent corporate updates.

"Yes they are enjoying a surge in demand but their ability to fully benefit from this surge in terms of profit is being compromised by rising costs," Mould said.

"This also demonstrates some limitations on the pricing power of the company's brands given it has not been able to pass on all of this extra cost to the consumer."

The positive start for Europe's markets comes amid far more buoyant sentiment than was seen at the start of the week, when there was a rout in global markets amid fears over rising Covid cases and global growth.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks were mixed as an unexpected jump in jobless claims kept investors on edge about the economy.

Jobless claims unexpectedly rose to 419,000 last week, higher than the 350,000 economists polled by Dow Jones estimated and more than the upwardly revised 368,000 from the previous period, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

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- CNBC's Ryan Browne, Tanaya Macheel, Pippa Stevens and Eustance Huang contributed to this market report.

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